From Hobby to Business: Start Selling Crafts Online with Your Own Website

  •    Alena Courtney is a Content Marketing and Organic Growth Manager at Weebly.

Make this your year to launch a professional online shop.

Perhaps you’ve already found success selling your handmade goods through craft fairs like Renegade, or through online marketplaces like Etsy or Amazon, and now you're ready to take the next step by building an online presence with your own DIY website.

Here are 11 things to consider when selling your craft online.

Name your handmade business

If you don’t already have a business name, choose one that helps depict your craft or handmade goods. Your name can feature what you do, how you do it, or what makes you or your brand unique.

When coming up with a name for your business consider these best practices:

  • Keep it simple. If your business name is hard to pronounce, an acronym, or contains numbers or symbols, visitors (and Google) will have hard time understanding what you do.
  • Make it memorable. Pick a name that makes sense for your offering and is in your audience's vocabulary, but don't choose a name that's so generic that no one will remember.
  • Make it distinct from your competition. Do a quick Google search to get a sense of your competition's business names. Select a name that communicates your brand's unique benefit.

Once you've narrowed it down to a few options, think about how and where your name will live: On a sign, on your website, on social media—seeing how your business name will show up in real life can help validate that it works.

Get your own domain

Once you've landed on a business name you love, you'll need to secure your domain so no one else can take it.

You can purchase a domain from Weebly directly, choose a free subdomain, transfer a domain from another provider, or point to a domain from an outside service. Purchasing your branded domain name is an inexpensive and hassle-free way to give your online shop the professional polish it needs.

When choosing a domain name keep it short and avoid numbers, hyphens, underscores and other symbols that would make your domain name hard to say or remember. If people can discern what your business is from your domain name, you're off to a good start. If the exact match isn't available, try adding a prefix or suffix to your domain name, such as TheClayStudio.com or ClayStudioSF.com to indicate your location. Don't be afraid to get creative—it's what you do best.

Develop your business plan

Developing a business plan is vital when taking your hobby from pastime to business. Articulating your "North Star" for what you’re building makes it tangible for yourself, future employees, customers, and partners. It also keeps you on track when you’re juggling crafting items and running a successful online shop.

A solid business plan should include your goals for the future, explain what your business is, and describe what distinguishes your products. It outlines your company structure and processes, describes your product in detail (what it is, how it’s made, and potential product extensions), and how you intend to market and sell your creations.

Most importantly, it includes the numbers: Your costs like rent, machinery, and materials, as well as the prices you plan to set for your products, and the profits you hope to make over time.

Craft your story

Creating your own website gives you ownership of your brand narrative.

Consider why your target audience might want to buy handmade goods, rather than less expensive, mass produced products from larger competitors. Let your future customers know why they should feel good about buying from your online shop.

Are your products environmentally friendly because they're handmade? Are buyers supporting a small business or artist who's making a living sharing their creations with the world?

Make an "about" page to explain your business and tell its story.

Shoot great product images

Having great product photos goes a long way in creating demand for your handmade goods. In fact, over 75% of respondents said that great photos were very important when they were deciding whether or not to buy a product in a recent study of Weebly shoppers.

If you're up for the challenge, you can shoot your own product photos with a borrowed DSLR camera or a smartphone. Ensure that you capture an image of your product on a white background so shoppers can easily see what it looks like on your product pages.

There are a few simple steps you can take to maximize your budget and time.

  • Plan ahead. Write down the equipment, props, and people you need. By writing down everything you need ahead of time, it will be much easier to stay organized when the day of your shoot arrives.
  • Check your equipment. The night before, make sure everything you’re using is charged and functional—so the day of your shoot is a breeze.
  • Make a shot list. Include product name, shot type, props needed, number of shots, lighting setups, and angles required.

You can also ship Weebly your goods and our expert photographers will shoot three product photos then send your products back to you for only $10 per product with Weebly Photo Studio.

Create product pages that sell themselves

When you're ready to upload your images to your product pages, include helpful product descriptions that include key details like size, fit, color, and materials. This is also an opportunity to engage shoppers and let them know why your creations are special.

Product pages are also important for search engines to understand what you're selling so they can return your site in related search results.

For each product, write a clear title tag describing exactly what your product is using keywords—terms that real people would use to search for it. Keyword use is critical because your title tag is also your headline for the search engine result displayed to online viewers. Be sure to create a unique custom title tag for every product page.

Increase your odds of getting found on Google even more by creating customized URLs for each product page. With Weebly, these links are automatically generated from the names of each of your products. Be aware that products with longer names can generate awkward links, but you can customize each URL to create a shorter, more readable link.

Sync your inventory

If you're already selling your goods on an online marketplace, Weebly includes everything you need to import, export, and batch update products easily. These tools make it simple to open (or move) an online shop from a managed marketplace such as Etsy to your own dedicated website.

If you're also selling your products offline at farmers markets, craft fairs, or to friends and family, it’s important to sync your online and offline inventory to avoid selling items you don't have. Syncing your inventory is easy with the Weebly + Square integration.

Plan for shipping

Online sales mean offline shipping. For the nuts and bolts of your shipping operation, including shipping rates and carriers, you have a number of choices. Whatever route you go, Weebly can help your online business set up a professional logistics process. Get real-time shipping rates dynamically by carrier, address, weight, and quantity.

You'll also want to think through the unboxing experience. Make your brand memorable by making your packaging personal. When adding branding to your packaging, it’s best to add simple and clear branding at certain high-touch, or high impact, areas. For more information on packaging pricing and resources check out our packaging guide.

Integrate your online and IRL experiences

If you're a creative entrepreneur you likely are also selling your craft offline. It's important to marry your offline and online brand identity to make for one cohesive experience for customers. Advertise your presence at the next craft fair on your website. Create business cards which include your business email and domain name to distribute at networking events and when selling in-person.

Publish your online shop

By launching your craft website you get to control your own brand narrative, grow your audience, and keep all of your earnings. Start by establishing your business name and carving out your corner of the internet. Show off your creations with beautiful product images, concise product descriptions, and memorable packaging. By the end of 2019 your hobby may just be a booming business.

Ready to bring your creativity online? Check out our resolutions for more ways to craft a personal, powerful, and professional online shop with Weebly today.